Green, Jocelyn. Veiled in Smoke. Bloomington, MN: Bethant House, 2020.
eBook | $10.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0764233302 | 416 pages | Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction
I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I had never read Jocelyn Green before, but the premise of Veiled in Smoke appealed to me, even though, to my shame, I knew next to nothing about the Great Chicago Fire prior to picking this book up. Thus, this book proved to be a learning experience, in addition to being a fairly captivating story.
I enjoyed the family element at the center of the story, especially with the two daughters, Sylvie and Meg, concerned about the health of their father, Stephen, who was a POW in the war. Stephen is by far the most intriguing, well-written and at times tragic character, because given the state of his physical and mental health and the poor understanding some medical professionals had of it at the time, there are some scenes when he’s in the asylum which go to some pretty dark places.
The plot surrounding the girls surviving in the aftermath of the Fire without him, especially as he’s been implicated in a murder of someone close to him is interesting, and I loved seeing them and reporter Nate begin to put all the pieces together. And I felt the lead-up to the identity of the killer was well done, especially as they are not who they present themselves as.
I did have some issues becoming invested in Meg and Sylvie themselves. Apart from their love for their father, I didn’t find much to recommend in them. I mean, Meg is an artist, a point she makes light of at one point by pointing out the irony that she shares a name with Meg in Little Women, but identifies more with Amy. It’s this and other literary allusions the two make that had me lost for the majority of the book. While, t the end, it is revealed in a discussion question to be choice made to highlight the different forms of the written word, given that letter writing and news articles also play a role in the story, I didn’t feel this was conveyed well.
This is a pretty good story about a historical event I’m glad to have learned just a bit more about. I recommend it to those looking for well-researched historical fiction with a bit of suspense.
Buy it here: https://amzn.to/2Gy4XvK